life breathed into snow and ice @branwyns
life breathed into snow and ice Originally posted to my AO3 acc. Part of a maybe abandoned IronQrow AU.

Winter Schnee was three days off from twenty years old when she was hauled into General Ironwood’s office with a bruise blooming on her cheek and blood still oozing from her split lip and busted nose. She kept her back straight, shoulders back, eyes forward, even as her hands itched to wipe off the blood beginning to drip down her chin. The general didn’t look up at first, just waved the other soldier away and continued looking at his paperwork. When the door clicked shut he finally looked up at her. He gestured to the seat in front of his desk. “Sit,” he said. She moved forward stiffly and sat on the edge of the seat. She hadn’t felt this on edge since the last time her father had called her into his office. “Sir,” she began, but he cut her off with a raised hand. “Schnee,” he said. She repressed the urge to flinch, keeping her eyes steady and face calm. Blood continued to ooze down her face, she felt it begin to congeal on the underside of her chin and once again kept her hands still instead of trying to wipe it away. The General’s eyes were calm, but so were her father’s before the harshest of her punishments. He plucked a tissue from the box on his desk and held it out to her. “Clean up your face before you get blood on your uniform. I hear it’s a pain to wash out.” His voice was light and so slowly Winter reached out to take the tissue from him. She held it under her chin, clumsily mopping at the mess, wishing she had a mirror. He slid the box of tissue closer to her and turned back to the paperwork in front of him. They sat in silence, besides the sound of flipping pages and Winter’s own wet breaths. When Winter put the last of the tissues into the garbage bin by the General’s desk he looked back up and slid the paperwork to the side. “So, Miss Schnee,” he began. “Another fight with a superior officer, huh?” Winter’s hands clenched into fists in her lap, thankfully hidden by the desk. She kept her gaze dropped now, fixed on her knuckles. They were already scabbing over where they’d split when she had punched the man in his stupid, smug face. A single nod. “Are you going to expel me?” she asked. He’d be well within his rights as the Headmaster to do so. It wasn’t even Winter’s first fight that week. A quiet sigh. “Do you want me to expel you?” he asked. A single, sharp shake of her head. She still kept her eyes fixed on her hands. She wondered what her team would do without her. Would they be disbanded? Would a new student be brought in to take her place? She steadfastly refused to think about what she would do if she were expelled. “Winter, please look at me.” His voice was too gentle. A slight tremor started up in her hands. Finally she looked up at him, bangs falling into her right eye. The tremor reached her shoulders. He stood up and walked around the desk. He kneeled down in front of her, still managing to be similar in height to her. “Is there anything you need to tell me? About your home life or your team or even those officers you’ve hit?” She clenched her jaw and tried not to look away. “No,” she said shortly. His eyes stayed locked on her face and she forced herself not to squirm. He sighed again, nodded, and stood. “You’re free to go, Schnee,” he said. She stood, saluted, and made her way stiffly to the door. She half expected the officer from before or her teammates to be lurking outside, but the hallway was empty. She went back to her dorm and found only her partner was in the room. Amber looked up from where she was lounging on her bed playing a game on her Scroll and patted the comforter beside her. “Hey, Winter,” she said. The tip of her tail twitched. Winter climbed onto the bed with her and curled up. Amber was the only one she’d told about her father so far. Winter tucked her head against Amber’s shoulder and began to drift off, stirring slightly when she felt something cold and wet touch her face. The soft smell hit her a moment later, allowing her to realize it was one of Iris’ makeup wipes being used to clean up the rest of the smeared blood on her face. Amber sighed and Winter felt the slight movement of the wipe being tossed away. “What am I ever gonna do with you, Schnee?” she asked. Winter shrugged and tucked herself more fully against Amber. “Take a nap?” she suggested. Amber laughed. “Sure.”

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